New Accenture Microsoft Business Group Excited About AI, Vertical Opportunities
The Accenture Microsoft Business Group is the latest evolution of a joint venture created nearly two decades ago with the formation of Avanade, the consulting and technology services provider focused on Microsoft’s core offerings.
Over the years, the three have announced various initiatives, most recently last summer’s effort to offer vertical solutions coming from Accenture’s Applied Intelligence group and Microsoft’s AI portfolio. The move helped springboard Microsoft’s call to action for its broader partner community to build competency in offering AI solutions that can help their customers transform their businesses.
“Business decision makers aren’t interested in APIs or individual services, they want out-of-the-box solutions that simplify and solve their business processes,” Microsoft’s worldwide channel chief Gavriella Schuster noted in last year’s announcement.
Last month’s formation of the new Accenture Microsoft Business Group might make you wonder how this is different than the existing approach Microsoft and Accenture have maintained with Avanade. It builds on the fact that Microsoft is ramping up its emphasis on adding specific vertical industry capabilities to its solutions.
Likewise, Accenture is putting a greater emphasis on its vertical-industry expertise and consulting agenda, focused on working even closer with the lines of business, which means Avanade will power that, according to David Seybold, president of Avanade’s North America business.
“I think what’s going to change is Accenture has a level of forward-looking thought leadership that goes far beyond what we’ve done necessarily in the past, and where clients should be taking their strategies and their digital agendas for the next five to 10 years,” Seybold told Channel Futures.
“With this greater emphasis on the Microsoft partnership, the three clouds of Microsoft, the whole open technology platform, they’re going to introduce more innovative ways for clients to derive value from the Microsoft platform,” Seybold added. “And so I think clients are going to get much more innovative, industry-specific ideas from Accenture on how to make use of the Microsoft technology platform.”
The executive tapped to lead the new Accenture Microsoft Business Group is Emma McGuigan. A 20-year Accenture veteran based in the U.K., McGuigan is stepping into her new role as senior managing director, after most recently serving as group technology officer for Accenture’s communications, media and technology sector. In that role, she oversaw partnerships focused on emerging technologies such as machine learning, AI and cognitive computing solutions delivered to clients in that industry vertical.
Given Microsoft’s focus on delivering AI across vertical sectors, McGuigan told Channel Futures that she’s ready to hit the ground running. In our interview, condensed and edited for clarity, McGuigan shared her vision for this new group.
Channel Futures: Accenture, Avanade and Microsoft have jointly announced various partnerships, including one as recently as last year, when the three formed an initiative around AI. Does this new group tap into that, or is it actually a separate partnership?
Emma McGuigan: It’s about tapping into the AI work and where we’ve co-invested together around all of the different announcements we’ve made. It’s around pooling all of that to help accelerate the opportunity that sits here. But this is also about …